January 30th, 2011
Editor's Note: This article is being updated constantly by CNN reporters worldwide. Follow the latest tweets from CNN correspondents and images from the protests. Send your video, images to CNN iReport.
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Fighter jets flew low over the crowd of tens of thousand of protesters Sunday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, minutes before the beginning of a state-imposed curfew.
In a statement carried by state television, General Mohamad Tantawi, the defense minister in the sacked Egyptian government, urged the public to obey the 4 p.m. - 8 a.m. curfew (9 a.m.-1 a.m. ET). Tantawi was escorted to the network's headquarters by red-helmeted troops in a convoy of sport-utility vehicles.
The demonstrations throughout the day were generally peaceful, and at times felt like a music festival, with people cheering, chatting, and posing for pictures with members of the military in their tanks. The army had been deployed to replace police forces that had crashed brutally with demonstrators.
Some residents picked up the slack for police in areas surrounding the protests -- offering to clean up trash, for example. Medical personnel worked their way through the crowd, seeing if anyone needed help.
Turning up in strong numbers for the sixth straight day, the protesters continued to broadcast their message worldwide. They issued two central demands: that the regime that has run Egypt for years face a trial, and that the constitution be changed.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- who fired his entire Cabinet on Saturday and is trying to cling to his 30-year rule -- visited an armed services operations center, state-run Nile TV reported. Mubarak was following up on the security situation and showing support for the military, the report said.
Whether the 450,000-strong armed forces -- deployed to the streets for the first time since the mid-1980s -- will remain loyal to Mubarak is a key question for the nation's future.
Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei on Sunday called on Mubarak to "leave today and save the country."
"This is a country that is falling apart," ElBaradei told CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
Egypt is entering a period of transition, and a government of national unity is needed to fill the void and hold "fair and free" elections, ElBaradei said.
In other parts of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, fear of anarchy and looting lingered Sunday. Many in the nation's capital have been left without security after police stopped patrolling.
Shops and businesses were looted and abandoned police stations were stripped clean of their arsenals.
One of the biggest concerns of many Egyptians in the wake of the chaos -- that prisoners could escape -- proved true. State-run TV Nile TV said some prisoners broke out of Abu Zaabal prison in Cairo, though it was not immediately clear how many. At the Ataa prison in Al Badrashin, a town in Giza, some prisoners broke out as well. Roughly 1,000 inmates escaped from Prison Demu in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, Nile TV reported early Sunday.
More than 3,000 people have been arrested so far, including some prisoners and looters, Nile TV reported.
"Those thugs are setting things on fire. ... They are setting fire in front of the hospital," a caller to Nile TV said, identifying herself as a doctor in a Cairo neighborhood.
"It seems that every major square and every small street in Cairo was basically taken over by communities ... people are parading the streets, walking around with baseball bats and knives," said Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American Islamic Relations from Cairo. "We didn't get any sleep all night."
Cell phone and mobile Internet service appeared to have returned, but word of a possible new crackdown on communication emerged Sunday.
Egypt's information ministry announced that it was revoking Al Jazeera's license and withdrawing accreditation of the network's staff, state media reported.
"The closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people," the Al Jazeera network said in a statement.
The network's Arabic-language channel was off the air in Egypt Sunday afternoon, but Al Jazeera English was still on the air.
As the threat of further unrest loomed, Turkey sent two planes to Egypt on Sunday to begin evacuation of its citizens, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Una said.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said it would assist American citizens who want to leave Egypt with flights departing from the country's capital Monday, embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton said.
Mubarak appointed his trusted and powerful intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his deputy, the first time the authoritarian regime has seen such a post. Suleiman is well respected by the military and is credited with crushing an Islamic insurgency in the 1990s, for which he earned the ear of Western intelligence officials thirsting for vital information about regional terrorist groups.
Suleiman had a meeting Sunday with the head of the military and the interior minister, Egyptian TV network ESC reported.
Mubarak also asked Ahmed Shafik, the civil aviation minister in the cabinet that just stepped down, to form a new government, state-run Nile TV reported. Shafik is a former Air Force officer with strong military connections.
But many called for Mubarak to step down.
The protests come weeks after similar disturbances sparked a revolution in Tunisia, forcing then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.
Both Egypt and Tunisia have seen dramatic rises in the cost of living in recent years and accusations of corruption among the ruling elite.
Tunisia-inspired demonstrations have also taken place in Algeria, Yemen and Jordan.
The Egyptian crisis reverberated across the world, with activists in cities including New York, Toronto and Geneva staging protests Saturday in support of those in Egypt and demanded that Mubarak step down.
Mubarak, 82, who had not been seen in public for some time, addressed the nation in a televised speech early Saturday. He said he asked his government to step down but he intended to stay in power.
"These protests arose to express a legitimate demand for more democracy, need for a greater social safety net, and the improvement of living standards, fighting poverty and rampant corruption," Mubarak said.
The aging president has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for three decades, and it was widely believed he was grooming his son, Gamal, as his successor -- a plan now complicated by demands for democracy.
"I understand these legitimate demands of the people and I truly understand the depth of their worries and burdens, and I will not part from them ever and I will work for them every day," he said. "But regardless of what problems we face, this does not justify violence or lawlessness."
CNN's Nic Robertson, Ben Wedeman, Frederik Pleitgen, Ivan Watson, Housam Ahmed, Caroline Faraj and Saad Abedine and journalist Ian Lee contributed to this report.
January 29th, 2011
Toxicology "didn't play a role" in his death, officials said.
Homicide victim John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and presidential aide whose body was discovered Dec. 31 in a Wilmington landfill, was beaten to death in an assault, the Delaware medical examiner’s office announced today.
The official cause of Wheeler’s slaying was “blunt force trauma,’’ agency spokesman Karl Kanefsky said about a case that has drawn worldwide media coverage.
Police reiterated today that the case remains under investigation but acknowledge they cannot fill in critical gaps in the murder mystery.
Within hours of the grisly New Year’s Eve discovery, state pathologists had ruled that the 66-year-old New Castle resident was a homicide victim, but until today authorities had been mum on the cause of his death -- an unusual posture in Delaware, where such information is usually released promptly.
The four-week delay has helped fuel rampant speculation that Wheeler, a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons, was poisoned by enemies -- a theory that persisted in part because he was seen stumbling around Wilmington in the days before he died and officials said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Hal G. Brown, deputy director of the medical examiner’s office, said he did not know what medications or chemicals, if any, were in Wheeler’s system, but said the death certificate makes it clear that toxicology “didn’t play a role’’ in Wheeler’s death.
Brown said blunt force trauma describes the result of being struck with an object or a body part such as a fist. Brown added that Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, who handled Wheeler’s autopsy, met with police and prosecutors today about her conclusions.
Newark police are the lead agency on a multi-force investigation because the garbage truck that dumped Wheeler’s body at Wilmington’s Cherry Island Landfill was emptying debris it had collected at trash bins in Newark. The FBI is also assisting the probe.
Newark police spokesman Lt. Mark Farrall was mum Friday on the official word that Wheeler was killed in an assault. “I can’t comment on his
Farrall said detectives still do not know how Wheeler got to Newark or how he got into the dumpster.
“We’re still attempting to determine how he made his way to Newark and who is responsible for his murder,” Farrall said. “How he got the injuries, I just don’t know.”
Jason Miller, spokesman for Attorney General Beau Biden, said their office could not comment on the “ongoing investigation.’’
Wheeler, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, led fundraising efforts in the 1980s to construct the Vietnam memorial and served as an adviser to the last three Republican presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Most recently he worked part-time for the MITRE Corp., which provides systems engineering and information technology services to the government about issues such as aviation defense and intelligence.
Wheeler is believed to have been on a train from Washington, D.C., to Wilmington on Dec. 28, Newark police said.
A cabbie interviewed by The News Journal, however, said he picked Wheeler up at the train station on Dec. 29.
Video and witness accounts of Wheeler's behavior in the 48 hours before his body was found show him disoriented, carrying one of his dress shoes, and looking in vain for his car in a Wilmington parking garage blocks from where his vehicle was located.
On Dec. 30, Wheeler was captured on surveillance video at the Nemours building at 10th and Orange streets in downtown Wilmington, where he asked for train fare at the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz law firm.
The last image of him that day was leaving the Nemours building and walking southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continued southeast and crossed Market Street and was last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking toward the East Side, a low-income neighborhood known as a hot spot for crime.
January 29th, 2011
The Dutch government has frozen all contacts with Iran in protest over the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman.
The Dutch foreign ministry said it was "shocked, shattered by this act by a barbaric regime".
Sahra Bahrami, aged 46, was hanged for drug smuggling early on Saturday, Iranian officials said.
Her family accuses Tehran of fabricating the case against her after she was detained for taking part in anti-government protests in 2009.Travel advice
The Dutch foreign ministry announced the freeze in all contacts with Iran on Saturday.
"This concerns all official contacts between diplomats and civil servants," spokesman Bengt van Loosdrecht told the AFP news agency.
Any meetings or contacts with the Iranians now must have prior written approval.
The ministry also advised all dual Dutch-Iranian nationals against travelling to Iran, saying that Dutch consular officials would now have no access to them if they needed any assistance.
Sahra Bahrami's execution brings the total number hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to media reports.
January 29th, 2011
CAIRO – With protests raging, Egypt's president named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor as chaos engulfed the capital. Soldiers stood by — a few even joining the demonstrators — and the death toll from five days of anti-government fury rose sharply to 74.
Saturday's fast-moving developments across the north African nation marked a sharp turning point in President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule of Egypt.
Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighborhoods boarded up their houses and stores against looters, who roamed the streets with knives and sticks, stealing what they could and destroying cars, windows and street signs. Gunfire rang out in some neighborhoods.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government buildings, and major tourist and archaeological sites. Among those singled out for special protection was the Egyptian Museum, home to some of the country's most treasured antiquities, and the Cabinet building. The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo — Egypt's premier tourist site.
But soldiers made no moves against protesters, even after a curfew came and went and the crowds swelled in the streets, demanding an end to Mubarak's rule and no handoff to the son he had been grooming to succeed him.
"This is the revolution of people of all walks of life," read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. "Mubarak, take your son and leave," it said.
Thousands of protesters defied the curfew for the second night, standing their ground in the main Tahrir Square in a resounding rejection of Mubarak's attempt to hang onto power with promises of reform and a new government.
Police protecting the Interior Ministry near the site opened fire at a funeral procession for a dead protester, possibly because it came too close to the force. Clashes broke out and at least two people were killed.
A 43-year-old teacher, Rafaat Mubarak, said the appointment of the president's intelligence chief and longtime confidant, Omar Suleiman, as vice president did not satisfy the protesters.
"This is all nonsense. They will not fool us anymore. We want the head of the snake," he said in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. "If he is appointed by Mubarak, then he is just one more member of the gang. We are not speaking about a branch in a tree, we are talking about the roots."
The crackdown on protesters has drawn harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington's most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at Cairo's airport as flights were canceled or delayed, leaving them unable to leave because of a government-imposed curfew. Several Arab nations, meanwhile, moved to evacuate their citizens.
The cancelations of flights and the arrival of several largely empty aircraft appeared to herald an ominous erosion of key tourism revenue.
The protesters united in one overarching demand — Mubarak and his family must go. The movement is a culmination of years of simmering frustration over a government they see as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of poverty.
Egyptians were emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the ban on gatherings.
At the end of a long day of rioting and mass demonstrations Friday, Mubarak fired his Cabinet and promised reforms. But the demonstrators returned in force again Saturday to demand a complete change of regime.
The president appeared to have been preparing his son Gamal to succeed him, possibly as soon as presidential elections planned for later this year. However, there was significant public opposition to the hereditary succession.
The appointment of Suleiman, 74, answers one of the most intriguing and enduring political questions in Egypt: Who will succeed 82-year-old Mubarak?
Another question is whether his appointment will calm Egypt's seething cities.
Mubarak appointed Suleiman shortly after the U.S. said he needed to take concrete action to achieve "real reform." Suleiman is well known and respected by American officials and has traveled to Washington many times.
Before word that Mubarak had picked his first vice president, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. wanted to see Mubarak fulfill his pledges of reform.
"The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat," Crowley said on his Twitter account. "President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action."
As the army presence expanded in Cairo Saturday, police largely disappeared from the streets — possibly because their presence seemed only to fuel protesters' anger. Egyptian police are hated for their brutality.
On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and freeing some jailed suspects. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, protesters besieged a police station in the Giza neighborhood of Cairo, looted and pulled down Egyptian flags, then burned the building to the ground.
There were no clashes reported between protesters and the military at all, and many in the crowds showered soldiers with affection.
One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped apart a picture of the president.
"We don't want him! We will go after him!" demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: "Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!"
Some 200 inmates escaped a jail on the outskirts of the city, starting a fire first to cover their breakout. Eight inmates were killed during the escape.
On Saturday, feelings of joy over the sustained protest mingled with frustration over the looting and Mubarak's refusal to step down.
"To hell with Mubarak; We don't serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you," yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: "Down with Mubarak!"
Like Mubarak, Suleiman has a military background. The powerful military has provided Egypt with its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled nearly 60 years ago. He has been in charge of some of Egypt's most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Suleiman, additionally, is widely seen as a central regime figure, a position that protesters were likely to view with suspicion.
Mubarak also named his new prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and fellow former air force officer.
Both appointments perpetuate the military's overriding role in Egyptian politics.
Suleiman's frequent trips to Israel could be held against him by a population that continues to view the Jewish state as a sworn enemy more than 30 years after the two neighbors signed a peace treaty.
With the two occupying the country's most important jobs after the president from the military, Gamal, a banker-turned-politician, appears out of the running for his father's job.
A leaked U.S. diplomatic memo said Gamal and his clique of ruling party stalwarts and businessmen were gaining confidence in 2007 about controlling power in Egypt and that they believed that Mubarak would eventually dump Suleiman, who was seen as a threat by Gamal and his coterie of aides.
Gamal launched his political career within the ranks of the ruling National Democratic Party, climbed over the past 10 years to become its de facto leader, dictating economic policies and bolstering his own political standing.
Gamal's close aide and confidant, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, resigned from the party on Saturday, according to state television. Gamal and Ezz are suspected of orchestrating the rigging of the last parliamentary election in November, making sure the ruling party won all but a small fraction of the chamber's 518 seats.
"There is nothing short of Mubarak leaving power that will satisfy the people," Mohamed ElBaradei, the country's leading pro-reform activist told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I think what Mubarak said yesterday was an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people."
Buildings, statues and even armored security vehicles were covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti, including the words "Mubarak must fall," which by morning had been written over to say "Mubarak fell."
The military extended the hours of the night curfew imposed Friday in the three major cities where the worst violence has been seen — Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. State television said it would begin at 4 p.m. and last until 8 a.m., longer than the 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. ban Friday night that appeared to not have been enforced.
The Internet appeared blocked for a second day to hamper protesters who use social networking sites to organize. And after cell phone service was cut for a day Friday, two of the country's major providers were up and running Saturday.
In the capital on Friday night, hundreds of young men carted away televisions, fans and stereo equipment looted from the ruling National Democratic Party, near the Egyptian Museum.
Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.
Banks and the stock market will be closed on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of the turmoil.
AP reporters Sarah El Deeb, Maggie Michael, Margaret Hyde in Cairo and Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Alexandria, Egypt, contributed to this report.
January 29th, 2011
CR Editor's note: Hooray! What? Oh.... this is what the certficate should like like....a circa early 60's Hawaii birth certificate. Abercrombie could not find it, although, he did find an "entry in the archives." Personally, we can't wait until they do find it so that all of us who have been wondering about this will then look "stupid"....this according to the rants from the unskeptical mainstream media....
HONOLULU -- Anyone would be able to get a copy of President Barack Obama's birth records for a $100 fee under a bill introduced in the state Legislature that backers hope will finally dispel claims he was born elsewhere.
The bill would change a privacy law barring the release of birth records unless the requester is someone with a tangible interest, such as a close family member.
The measure was introduced by five Democrats but has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing, a required step before it can move forward. A decision on considering the bill will be made by the House's Democratic leadership and committee chairmen.
The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama's birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years.
"If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla. "All these people are still doubting it because they don't want the birth certificate from Obama. They want it from our state office."
So-called "birthers" claim there's no proof Obama was born in the United States, and he is therefore ineligible to be president. Many of the skeptics question whether he was actually born in Kenya, his father's home country.
The Obama campaign issued a certification of live birth in 2008, an official document from the state showing the president's Aug. 4, 1961, birth date, his birth city and name, and his parents' names and races.
Hawaii's former health director also has said she verified Obama's original records. And notices were published in two local newspapers within days of his birth at a Honolulu hospital.
Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who was a friend of Obama's parents and knew him as a child, said last month he wanted to release more of the state's birth information about Obama. But he ended the effort last week when the state attorney general told him that privacy laws bar disclosure of an individual's birth documentation without the person's consent.
The new legislation to release records may run into similar legal problems because of Hawaii's strong constitutional privacy protections, said Rep. John Mizuno, a co-sponsor of the bill.
"If people really want to confirm Barack Obama is born in Hawaii, that's fine," Mizuno said. "I don't have a problem with looking at innovative ways to bring revenue to the state. The taxpayers deserve a break."
The $100 fee would help offset the extra work by state employees who handle frequent phone calls and e-mails from people who believe Obama was born elsewhere, Cabanilla said.
But the number of birther requests has been declining from the 10 to 20 weekly inquiries received early last year, according to the Department of Health.
"Requests have decreased significantly over the years. Currently we receive anywhere from zero to five per week," said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
The Health Department is still reviewing the bill, Okubo said.
House Health Committee Chairman Ryan Yamane didn't immediately return messages seeking comment on whether he would hold a hearing on the bill.